Jeff Duneske

Here is some great news about the Metro Detroit Housing Market. This report was just released yesterday by Realcomp Multiple Listing System.

All MLS October ‘09 sales at highest levels since 2004

Lowest on‐market inventory levels in any month since January 2006 (42,785 in October 2009, 48,059 in January 2006)

NonForeclosure Sales Top Foreclosure Sales in Metro Detroit. For the month of October, the total nonforeclosure sales were 3,483 compared to 2,938 foreclosure sales. What are your thoughts about this?

Months supply of inventory (MSI) has dropped by nearly 50% ‐ from 11.9 month supply last year to 6 month supply this year

All American Speakers

Geena Davis is one of the best loved actresses, but it seems its time to spend more time being a full-time mother to her three children.

The star has kept her acting work to a minimum. She has devoted herself to the children and Reza Jarrahy her husband of nine years.

Davis may have put her acting on the back burner; however she is continuing her political activism.

Geena will speak in Detroit next week on behalf of the White House Project, a non-profit organization aimed at promoting women in political positions.

The White House Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that works to advance women, is behind the appearance, which is titled "Add Women, Change Michigan." It's part of the organization's rollout of its new survey that will document how women stake up in various arenas.

Jason Beck

For a 20-year-old thrust into the Major Leagues, Rick Porcello defied a lot of expectations this year to reach some lofty marks and earn mention in the same sentence with Dwight Gooden. Now it's time to see how he stacks up against the rest of the American League's rookie crop this season.

The bigger-name Major League awards start off Monday with the AL Rookie of the Year, and there's plenty of reason for Porcello to earn serious consideration for what would be Detroit's second winner in four years, joining Justin Verlander.

What began as a long-shot experiment in Spring Training to jump the former first-round Draft pick from Class A ball, turned into a big league effort well beyond Porcello's age as the youngest player in the league.

His early-season success was a bonus to the front-line pitching that helped Detroit move in front in the division in May and stay there through the break. Once he encountered his midsummer struggles, his second-half adjustment from a sinkerballer to a little more of a power pitcher made him Detroit's most effective starter not named Verlander.

Without Porcello's 14 wins and 170 2/3 innings, the Tigers probably would've lost out in the AL Central race before the tiebreaker. And without his 5 2/3 innings with a lone earned run in that showdown against the Twins, the Tigers wouldn't have had a chance to take the tiebreaker into extra innings.

He was a unanimous pick as the Tigers Rookie of the Year a week and a half ago. In many years, he'd be in a select group of contenders for the AL honor, if not a favorite. It may be his lone piece of bad timing this year that his arrival came in the same year as White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham, Rays starter Jeff Niemann and A's All-Star closer Andrew Bailey.

All Niemann did was lead the defending AL champs in wins and ERA while more than making up for the loss of Edwin Jackson. Beckham drove in 63 runs in just 103 games while banging out 14 homers and 28 doubles. Bailey not only racked up 26 saves, but he dominated opponents in the process, scattering 49 hits over 83 1/3 innings with a 1.83 ERA and 91 strikeouts.

Great as those numbers are, none of those other candidates played as big of a role in a pennant race as Porcello did in Detroit. The stretch run of that race brought out some of the best in Porcello. He went 5-2 with a 3.07 ERA over his final 13 starts, allowing just 66 hits over 73 1/3 innings. Just 18 of those hits went for extra bases.

How Porcello finished surprised even him.

"This being my first year, I didn't know how I was going to feel coming down the stretch," Porcello said in the season's final week. "I can remember last year down the stretch, the last couple starts I had, feeling really good. And this year, I didn't know what I was going to feel like. I'm a little surprised. At the same time, I'm thankful for the rest that they've given me and the work that we've done."

Ultimately, Porcello's chances might rest on how late in the season members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America waited to vote. By rule, ballots were due at the start of the postseason, but the Tigers-Twins tiebreaker was technically a regular-season game. Voters who waited, wanting to watch Porcello in the biggest game of his young career, could've turned in their ballots that night or the next morning.

If several voters waited, they saw a 20-year-old commanding a game for five innings -- against a team that had worn him down two other times in the previous few weeks -- before giving up a big home run in the sixth, and they likely would've been impressed.

"A 20-year-old kid grew up in front of everybody's eyes today," catcher Gerald Laird said at the time. "He had all the excuses in the world. He was young, inexperienced. And he went out there and manned up. He didn't look like a rookie out there."

Porcello didn't take much solace in his season after the last game. But now he might be able to look back and get something out of it.

Stuart Elliot
The New York Times

It may not be the advertising version of “Mission: Impossible,” but it is certainly a challenging, if not daunting, task: produce a campaign to encourage young and creative people to consider Detroit as a place to live and work.

Cue the Lalo Schifrin theme music.

The effort, called Selling Detroit.

The initiative to help change what may be the most dire urban image in America is being sponsored by the Time Inc. unit of Time Warner as part of a yearlong project, Assignment Detroit, that involves reporters and editors from Essence, Fortune, Money, Sports Illustrated, Time and related Web sites.

Several advertising agencies with offices in the Detroit area were asked to develop campaigns; five agreed to take part. Their work is to appear in the Dec. 7 issue of Fortune, due Nov. 23, as well as on three Web sites:, and

Visitors to the Web sites will be able to vote, beginning today, for their favorite among the five campaigns. The winner is to be announced on Dec. 2, during an annual awards ceremony in Detroit known as the D Show.

“The whole idea of the contest is that we believe in the renewal of the city,” said Mark Ford, president for the news group at Time Inc. in New York. This is to be accomplished partly by people moving to Detroit with their businesses and creativity, and being there “for the long haul.”

To that end, the campaign will be “targeted more to the 18-to-34-year-old demographic,” he added.

“A lot of smart people are committed to bringing the city back,” he added, and “we’ll do our part.”

The campaigns from the agencies certainly try to appeal to the intended audience. They include elements like special Web sites, blogs, video clips and applications for cellphones.

“There is never a silver bullet to solve a problem, but every little thing you can do along the way can help,” said Matt Canzano, executive vice president and executive creative director at the Birmingham, Mich., office of McCann Erickson Worldwide, one of the five agencies.

“It’s a hard assignment,” Mr. Canzano said of the concept of making Detroit more appealing, “but not unlike the assignment” from the State of Michigan to promote tourism.

Despite remarks like “Who wants to take a vacation in Michigan?” he added, “people are sitting up and noticing” the campaign produced by his agency — part of the McCann Worldgroup unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies — that carries the theme “Pure Michigan” and uses the voice of the actor Tim Allen.

The centerpiece of the McCann Erickson contest entry is a proposed Web site that would be called “This city is built on creativity,” a print ad asserts, listing examples like Pewabic pottery, founded in Detroit in 1903; the Detroit Derby Girls, an all-female, amateur, flat-track roller derby league; and the Von Bondies, a rock band.

Similarly, a print ad from another Interpublic agency, Campbell-Ewald in Warren, features Ro Spit, a D.J. and an owner of a sneaker store, Burn Rubber. He declares: “Detroit is a blank canvas. You’ll find inspiration around every corner. ... What you do with it depends on you.” He also speaks in a video on a Web site (

The campaign “is a recruitment ad,” said Bill Ludwig, vice chairman and chief creative and strategic officer at Campbell-Ewald.

Although “I don’t think any other city has been hit harder by the economy,” he added, “kids who are coming here find it the land of opportunity” in fields like music and film.

The other agencies taking part in the contest are the Troy office of Leo Burnett, part of the Publicis Groupe, with a campaign starring a local celebrity, Kid Rock; Doner in Southfield, with a campaign likening those seeking opportunities in Detroit to the crew that joined the explorer Ernest Shackleton in his expedition to the Antarctic; and GlobalHue in Southfield, whose campaign includes fanciful postcards.

Among other agencies asked to participate was the Troy office of BBDO Worldwide, part of the Omnicom Group. But the office did not take part because of uncertainties over its fate, centered on the coming expiration of a contract with its client, the Chrysler Group. (The office is closing at the end of January, BBDO announced last week.)

Critics contend that a reason Detroit is in so much trouble is because its mainstay industry of automaking has stubbornly ignored ideas from outside sources. What, then, to make of the fact that the contest involves agencies only from the Detroit market?

“We haven’t really found the agencies to be insular,” Daniel Kile, a spokesman for Time, wrote in an e-mail message. “They’re the ones who get what the opportunity is there, and who have a stake in the area’s return to prominence.”

Jennifer Guerra

You’re going to hear the words asset and opportunity a lot in this story. And frankly, that’s a pretty welcome surprise. It’s not often you hear those words associated with Detroit these days.

But don’t tell that to Charles Cross, Chandra Moore, and Virginia Stanard. They all work at the Detroit Collaborative Design Center. The firm is associated with the University of Detroit Mercy. And most of their work focuses on Detroit’s abandoned spaces.

“Many communities come to us because they’re searching for some sort of revitalization or rethinking of their communities based on the strengths and assets that still exist in their communities,” explains Stanard.

The table at the front of the design center is covered in colorful mock ups and drawings of all the potential projects they want to work on.

They’re currently working on a project on Heidelberg Street in Detroit. A lot of children live around there, and it also happens to be one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. Chandra Moore explains how they’re going to take one of the vacant houses on the street “and figure out we can make it an open, urban amphitheater for the area.”

The reason they’re able to do the project is because they got a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Without the grant, who knows if the project would’ve happened. A lot of time the fate of a project does come down to money.

Virginia Stanard says money is, of course, important, “but it’s also collaboration and partnerships. And I do think there are a lot of strong foundations, non profits, organizations in the city, of course as well as the city government. And we’ve actually been fortunate enough to be in conversation with some of these groups and start to talk about some of these ideas.”

An idea that Charles Cross has is to turn a vacant building into a fish farm:

“There’s a gentleman in Brooklyn, New York who’s raising tilapia in these tanks in basements of buildings,” says Cross. “He’s done some research and said there’s a market for this. Other people are doing these things and we have infrastructure with the abandoned factories that are here that can be retrofitted and reused.”

When asked if he thinks there’s a space in Detroit to farm tilapia, Cross says “there’s one right around the corner from my apartment. And they used to support the auto industry; they’re now out of business. The building is still in good condition and it’s huge; I don’t see why this couldn’t be done there.”

Virginia Stanard tosses out another idea, this one is taken from Germany. It’s a country that has lots of similar post-industrial issues.

“They’ve been able to transform some of their current factories that are no longer in use into recreation and tourist destinations,” says Stanard. “There are some climbing wall locations, there are some park and walking areas. It’s an interpretative space as well. So they’re learning about the history of this particular factory, and the history of this region as an industrial region.”

The photo they showed me of the German factory looks like an attraction at Cedar Point: It is super bright, with red, purple and green neon lights. And there are people actually rappelling off one the side of the factory.

Now of course, they know it’s gonna take time to transform some of these dreams into realities.

But Charles Cross figures if other cities can do it, so can Detroit.

“The guy in Brooklyn,” says Cross, “this guy is raising fish! Why couldn’t we grow potatoes and have Detroit made fries or tater tots or something? So I really think it’s going to take a lot of political will and a lot of partnerships with the nonprofits and with the communities. We can’t sit back and wait for things to happen. We have to make them happen.”

Detroit made Tator Tots? I could totally see it.

Detroit Evolution 

Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, Detroit Evolution, and Eastern Market Corporation come together on the third Wednesday of every month to present Detroit Abides, A Free Sustainability Gathering in Eastern Market’s Shed 5.

The event features a movie on a sustainable topic, explores the topic at the local level through discussion and support from regional groups and businesses, and creates a space to meet like-minded people from all walks of life & grow an active, healthy community.

We are pleased to continue our monthly movie series with a very special screening of our friend Reverend Billy's inspirational documentary, from producer Morgan Spurlock (SUPER SIZE ME) What Would Jesus Buy? Rev Billy will be celebrating his run for Mayor of NYC so he'll be unable to join us for this screening, but he'll be with us in spirit as we exorcize the demons of credit debt and big box shopping! We will also discuss the importance of supporting local business and growing resilient local economies in the city of Detroit. Please bring a friend, a chair and a blanket as we gather together to enjoy this hilarious and enlightening film.

Detroit Abides! Community Movie Night in Eastern Market
This Months Free Movie: What Would Jesus Buy?
Wednesday, November 18th 7-9pm
Location: Eastern Market's Heated Shed 5
Shed 5 is located at the corner of Russell and Alfred St.

Please Note: Please remember to bring a sweater, blanket and friends to stay warm. Though Shed 5 is enclosed and heated, it is a large space that can be drafty.

 John Hahn  - Senior Director of Communications
Detroit Red Wings

Led by Red Wings vice president Steve Yzerman, the Red Wings are teaming up with Fifth Third Bank to encourage Southeast Michigan high school students to volunteer in the community. The new S.H.O.T.S. program (Students Helping Others Through Service) is an initiative designed to encourage high school students to volunteer their time and efforts while creating a competition among the student groups with monthly and overall winners taking home several great prizes.

“This is a great opportunity for high school kids to make a positive impact in the community and have fun in a spirited competition,” Yzerman said. “Whether you volunteer at a local soup kitchen or clean up a street or park, there are dozens of ways for everyone to get involved and make our neighborhoods better for everyone.”

Individual student groups of four to six students, or their teachers, can register their team by CLICKING HERE and keep the judges updated on their progress. The selection committee includes several local celebrities including Yzerman, Steve Grunwald from 99.5 WYCD Detroit’s Best Country, Pat Caputo from 97.1 and the Oakland Press, Dr. Darrius from 97.9 WJLB, Spike from the Mojo in the Morning Show on Channel 955 and Trevor Thompson from FOX Sports Detroit.

“The S.H.O.T.S. program encourages a culture of community service in our next generation, which has a far greater reach than if the bank had just performed the activity ourselves,” stated Jack Riley, senior vice president, marketing director at Fifth Third Bank. “We are really pleased to be working with our partner Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings' organization in such a worthwhile program.”

One winning team from the three-month contest will receive laptops for all team members and be honored on the ice at a Red Wings' home game in March. Monthly winners from December, January and February will win tickets to a Red Wings' home game, a pizza party for their team and goody bags filled with great Fifth Third Bank and Red Wings gear. And teachers and students both win by getting in the game early as the first 100 teachers to submit their student groups’ projects will receive a $50 Kroger gift card to purchase educational supplies for their classroom.

For more information and to register your team, CLICK HERE or call Sara Percoulis at 313-394-1997.

Get out your dictionaries and prepare for a H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S night at the UDM Theatre Company’s and the Marygrove College Music Department’s A-D-U-L-T musical comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Opening November 13 and playing a limited two week engagement till November 22, 2009 at the Marygrove College Theatre, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is sure to warm your heart, challenge your spelling skills and have you humming all the H-O-M-E!

This Tony award-winning musical is fresh off the national tour and recently closed on Broadway after nearly 1,200 performances. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee captures the corky competition of a county spelling bee with all the usual suspects that are in the throes of puberty. From the reigning spelling champion, to the overachiever with the lisp, the overweight kid with a host of health problems, and the second alternate that never expected to compete; they all unite through their love of spelling. Originally produced on Broadway by David Stone, James L. Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo, Barrington Stage Company, Second Stage Theatre, the “Spelling Bee” is recommended for theatregoers 13 and over for its adult content.

In each performance of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling four different audience volunteers will be chosen to participate in the actual spelling bee live on stage making each performance unique! Volunteer spellers are encouraged to arrive to the theatre 30 minutes prior to curtain on the day of the performance to sign up to be selected to spell.

Along with the four volunteer spellers are Darrius Washington (Detroit, MI) as Chip Tolentino, Anne C. Di Iorio (Farmington Hills, MI) as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere, Maxwell C. Bolton (Birmingham, MI) as Leaf Coneybear, Joel A. Frazee (Bluffton, OH) as William Barfee, Catherine Dacpano Menzies (Macomb, MI) as Marcy Park and Susan Boonenberg (Dearborn, MI) as Olive Ostrovsky. Erica Cole (Detroit, MI) as Rona Lisa Perretti and Steven Ploe (Detroit, MI) as Vice Principal Douglas Panch will monitor the Spelling Bee making sure all of the words are spelled correctly. The Spelling Bee will also feature Dez Walker (Royal Oak, MI) as Mitch Mahoney and Olive’s Dad, Angel Shakespeare (Farmington, MI) as Olive’s Mom, Rob Hammond (Troy, MI) as Carl Grubenierre, Emmanuel Carter (Inkster, MI) as Dan Schwarz and Chris Jakob (Detroit, MI) as Jesus Christ.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman and additional material by Jay Reiss. It will be directed by Greg Grobis and musical direction by Shawn McDonald. The creative team includes David Regal (Artistic Director), Melinda Pacha (Costume Design), Mark Choinski (Scenic Design), Kathleen Lanphear (Lighting Design), Matthew Lira (Stage Manager) and Hannah Reddy (Asst. Stage Manager).

Tickets for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are $20 for general admission, $16 for discount admission (senior citizens, UDM and Marygrove faculty, staff, and alumni), $13 for students and $9 for UDM and Marygrove students. Please note a $3.00 service fee per order for non-subscribers.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’s performances are November 13 through 22, 2009, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at the Marygrove Theatre on the campus of Marygrove College, 8425 W. McNichols Rd Detroit MI 48221.

The Theatre Company’s box office is located in Reno Hall on the University of Detroit Mercy campus. Hours of operation are NOON through 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. The box office will move on the day of the performance to the Marygrove Theatre and will open 45 minutes prior to curtain. For tickets, call the theatre box office at 313-993-3270 or reserve your tickets online at

Linda Preka, President and CEO of Nobile Cleaning Services, is proud to announce the launch of Green Paradiso, a new line of ECO-Friendly cleaning products using raw materials approved by the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) .

The launch will be celebrated at an event on Thursday, November 12, 2009, 6:30pm at Andiamo Warren, 7096 East 14 Mile Road, Warren, Michigan 48092.

The cleaning products are super concentrated formulas, packaged in recyclable materials, which are highly effective, safe and easy to use.  Most ingredients are derived from biorenewable resources originating from animal, plant, or marine material, reducing our carbon footprint.

 “As I have grown my commercial cleaning company, I realized there was a need for effective cleaning products that are green”, said Linda Preka.  “I wanted to use products that were both safe for my employees, clients and their employees, and for the environment. Working with Arrow Chemical Products, another Michigan based company, I developed products that I want to share them with other businesses.  I created the Green Paradiso line of cleaning products which I will now make available to any business that shares my concern for their employees and the environment.”

“Two women owned Michigan businesses have joined together to do their part to create a better environment within commercial business establishments,” said Cindy Schroeder, President, Arrow Chemical Products. “Our company brings over 70 years of experience formulating specialized chemical products and Linda Preka has many years of experience in the commercial cleaning business.  We have combined our knowledge and desire to help the environment and created Green Paradiso.

The product line includes Green Paradiso All-Purpose Cleaner, Heavy Duty Degreaser, Glass & Surface Cleaner, Disinfectant, and Laundry Detergent.

 Nobile Cleaning Services is located at 200 E. Big Beaver, Troy, Michigan and can be reached at 586-726-5319.  More information is available at  

More information regarding Green Paradiso can be obtained by calling 1-800-910-0114 or going to the website at

Livingston Daily

"In a sense, we are all Detroiters."

That was a comment made this week by George W. Jackson Jr., a Detroit business booster who addressed a breakfast meeting of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jackson, a former Detroit Edison marketing executive, heads the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., a private, nonprofit organization at the center of a lot of the revitalization efforts in the state's largest city.

Jackson's organization is sort of a parallel government in a city plagued by bureaucracy, inefficiency, incompetence and a strong scent of corruption. Rather than continue to fight the roadblocks at city hall, the economic development group finds ways to circumvent them.

There has been some success. Streetscapes have been refreshed, storefronts have gone through extensive renovation, residential and business districts have developed and the historic and virtually abandoned Book Cadillac hotel reopened last year after a $200 million renovation as the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit.

Some of the progress has been the long-overdue demolition of eyesores to make way for new projects. The Book Cadillac itself was a possible demolition target before a Cleveland developer came in to invest in the restoration of a 453-room hotel, topped by 66 condos. Blight is still a problem, but Jackson says now that most of the city's blight is privately owned rather than city-controlled property.

Jackson hopes to see a continuation of young professionals and baby boomers with higher-than-average incomes moving into various downtown pockets. He says outsiders — such as the Cleveland developer — are seeing the value in investing in Detroit.

Jackson is part of a group that works with other regional leaders — including Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, often unfairly cast as the bad guy in these discussions — to produce regional solutions.

Jackson is also optimistic about the administration of new Mayor Dave Bing, the former professional basketball player who turned into a successful Detroit businessman before running for mayor. Jackson says Bing will bring integrity and solid business credentials to city hall.

That said, Jackson said we in Michigan are too negative when it comes to Detroit. Downtown has many attractive features, drawing 5.6 million entertainment visitors a year. Despite the city's reputation for crime, Jackson said FBI statistics show the city is safer than many other large cities in the United States.

In Livingston County, we need to pay attention to Jackson. The region is defined to outsiders by Detroit. As Jackson says, outside of our immediate area, the Detroit brand is far more recognizable than the Michigan brand.

That brand needs to be a positive one. If Detroit is vital, then the entire region benefits. It's encouraging to see a Detroit leadership that appears to want to work with the rest of the region, rather than demonizing it.

Jack Lessenberry: Freedom House One of a Kind

Jack Lessenberry

They arrive here from all over the world, usually after having been beaten, tortured, traumatized. Many have seen family members killed; some were left for dead themselves.

Some were persecuted because of their race or religion or ethnic group. Others because they spoke out about abuses or fought for democracy. They are the people for whom America was invented.

The United States still has a policy of granting asylum to all who can prove they are truly refugees from political persecution.

A small group of those manage, against all odds, to get to Detroit every year, to a place that they know will help them see it. It is called Freedom House and is located in a rambling, century-old red-brick structure in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge.

It contains both offices and sparse, dorm-like living quarters. (It was once a nunnery.) But for those living there now, it is nothing short of a shining sanctuary. And, indeed, there is nothing like it anywhere else. "We're the only agency of its kind in the United States," said Deborah Drennan, Freedom House's program director, and, at least for now, top administrator.

"We try to provide all services needed by those fleeing persecution in their home country."

That means medical care -- mental as well as physical -- legal aid for the asylum process, housing and food, and also English languages classes, job training, placement and transitional housing.

"I've never had a job that was more important or worked with people I cared about so much," said Drennan, 53, a Detroit native who has spent her life working for the downtrodden.

"But for the first time, I am really worried that we aren't going to have enough money to keep this up," she said. Donations have fallen off, and they've lost a couple of grants.

Accordingly, she has just sent out an emergency appeal looking for the $150,000 she needs to "continue providing our clients with the necessary resources to rebuild their lives in freedom."

Those sheltered by Freedom House are not the scum of the earth, to put it mildly. The 38 men and women living there last week included accountants, lawyers, teachers and four Ph.Ds.

They have, however suffered horrendously. Most have been raped -- men as well as women -- and are dealing with both the physical and psychological after-effects. Potential residents are carefully screened, Drennan said, and those not meeting the qualifications are not allowed to stay. But most do.

And the staff works hard to win them asylum. Nationally, according to Drennan, only about 42 percent of those who apply for asylum are granted it. The success rate in Detroit's immigration court is far less than that. But the nonprofit group's mostly volunteer legal staff has a perfect success rate over the last two years.

Freedom House was founded in the early 1980s, to help a few refugees from Central America's death squads. Originally called the Detroit-Windsor Refugee Coalition, it changed its name after the Roman Catholic Church donated the building, a former convent associated with St. Anne's, the oldest church in the city.

For many years, it was far easier for those fleeing persecution to win asylum in Canada, until Ottawa toughened the rules. Now, the refugees have to seek refuge in the country where they first arrived.

Over the years, the ethnic composition of the house has changed dramatically, depending on where things have been worst in the world. Today, most are from sub-Saharan Africa, with a few from Colombia and Iran. Relations with the immigration authorities, sometimes rocky in the past, are pretty smooth these days.

Freedom House's biggest problem is now economic. While the economy undoubtedly accounts for much of the problem, it also has become fashionable to bash "illegal" immigrants.

Drennan, whose ancestors came from Ireland, finds that ironic, given that none of the first white settlers of this land asked the Native Americans for immigration papers. "When our refugees are legally allowed to work, employers absolutely love them."

But some of the refugees find getting work in their field very hard, like a 30-year-old Rwandan named Aimable Iragula. He has an extensive background in finance, but his English is still not up to acceptable levels. In the meantime, he works as a nurse's aide.

Still, residents of Freedom House are remarkably cheerful. When one wins asylum and leaves, they write a farewell in a guest book Deborah Drennan keeps for special events.

"I truly believe that God has sent me through this wonderful establishment to show me and prove something to me," wrote a woman who signed her letter only Victoria. "I have seen the America that I have always imagined before I came to this country.

"God bless you."

Together, Michelle Matiyow and Lians of LM Studios in Warren, Mich. have earned an honorable mention in the Advertising – Fashion category of the 2009 International Photography Awards Competition. Their winning entry "Fugitive Color” is a series of photographs created to explore the relationship between fashion and fine art.

“A synergy exists between the classic beauty of the black and white images with the chaos of the paint,” said Matiyow.

 LM Studios is a photography and post production studio focusing on fashion. Photographers Michelle Matiyow and Lians met while working at Clear Magazine in 2002 and have worked together since then.

“It is truly an honor to have our work recognized by the IPA, an organization we consider to be the equivalent of the Oscars for photography,” said Lians.

The 2009 International Photography Awards received nearly 18,000 submissions from 104 countries across the globe. It is a sister-effort of the Lucie Foundation, where the top three winners are announced at the annual Lucie Awards gala ceremony. The Foundation's mission is to honor master photographers, discover new and emerging talent and promote the appreciation of photography.

Since 2003, IPA has had the privilege and opportunity to acknowledge and recognize contemporary photographer's accomplishments in this specialized and highly visible competition. View the winners at

For more information about Michelle Matiyow, Lians or LM Studio, send email to or visit the Web site

To learn more about the International Photography Awards, contact Competition Director Sarah Cho at or call (310) 659-0122.
As part of the Community Telecommunications Network (CTN), Wayne State University is providing the technical, strategic and systems support to provide Internet access for residents in two low-income Detroit neighborhoods.

The initiative is supported by one of several Knight Foundation creative sector grants totaling more than $5 million; these grants are intended to transform the city's economy by creating jobs and extending digital access to community centers and underserved citizens.

CTN, funded by an $800,000 Knight Foundation grant, provides $100,000 in matching funds to support Internet access infrastructure development in Detroit's Midtown, Northend and Osborn-Northeast neighborhoods.

CTN members include Detroit Public Schools; Detroit Public Television; Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties intermediate school districts; and Wayne State. Community partners in this Detroit Connected Community Initiative with CTN are the 4C's/Family Place, Focus: Hope and Matrix Human Services.

"Wayne State University is excited about the Knight Foundation's investment in Detroit and proud of our role, along with our partners in CTN, in extending broadband access," said WSU President Jay Noren. "This is a critical component in our collective efforts to revitalize Midtown and Detroit, connecting stakeholders and supporting new applications for economic development, public safety, education and health care. This project will change lives, uplift neighborhoods and help move this great city forward."

According to Patrick Gossman, executive director of CTN and Wayne State's deputy chief information officer, Wayne State will provide rooftop space for the hub of the new network, as well as technical expertise in its design and installation. Wayne State will then work with community partners to build networks that extend into the surrounding areas. The community partners will provide training and support for local residents.

"Wayne State computer scientists are providing design expertise and are excited about opportunities to include undergraduate and graduate students in the development and testing of advanced wireless networks," Gossman said. "As a leader in research and innovation, Wayne State and its partners in the Community Telecommunications Network are uniquely positioned to combine their K-12 and higher education resources to meet the challenges of the region.

"We are grateful for the assistance of Merit, a nonprofit corporation formed by the University of Michigan, Wayne State and Michigan State University, which will be the official Internet service provider for this initiative."

Salvation Army Creates Giant Red Kettle in Detroit

Associated Press

The Salvation Army has created a kettle made of red lights that stands about 56 feet tall in a downtown Detroit park. The kettle in Campus Martius Park was assembled Tuesday morning and is about 24 feet wide. It is made of 25,000 red lights.

The Detroit News reports organizers may earn a Guinness Book of World Records entry for world's tallest kettle with the creation.

The Salvation Army's iconic red kettles are a common sight at grocery stores, malls and other locations during the nonprofit organization's annual fundraising drive.

The army's Detroit-area branch is seeking to raise $7.8 million during the drive starting Nov. 13 and running through Dec. 24. The giant kettle at Campus Martius Park will be lit on Nov. 20.

Join the Red Wings in honoring the Hockey Hall of Fame’s newest member Steve Yzerman Thursday, Nov. 12 at Joe Louis Arena as the Red Wings take on the Vancouver Canucks beginning at 7:30 p.m. EST (FOX Sports Detroit & 97.1 The Ticket).

Fans are encouraged to arrive early as ‘The Captain’ will take part in a ceremonial puck-drop. All fans in attendance at Thursday’s game will receive a Steve Yzerman commemorative plaque, courtesy of Fifth Third Bank.

Red Wings vice president Steve Yzerman will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto Monday, Nov. 9, along with Red Wings alumni Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull and hockey greats Brian Leetch and Lou Lamoriello.

Single-game tickets for the entire 2009-10 season are available at the Joe Louis Arena box office, all TicketMaster locations including, Hockeytown Café, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy, Mich., or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Fans also can purchase tickets by logging on to

Mr. Pita restaurants will treat U.S. veterans to lunch or dinner again this year on Veteran's Day, Wednesday, November 11th.

In honor of the men and women who have served in the U.S. military, the restaurant chain will offer a choice of one of eight Mr. Pita sandwiches FREE – a regular-sized, classic pita (Italian, Ham and Cheese, Greek, Turkey, BLT, Tuna Salad, Veggie and Club).

"We felt it was important to provide a small gesture of gratitude to the many men and women who served in our  U.S.armed forces," said Casey Askar, chairman and  chief executive officer of Askar Brands. "We are proud to be giving back to Michigan’s veterans who made sacrifices in order to keep our nation safe.”

Veterans (with proper proof of service) who visit participating Mr. Pita locations may order their choice of sandwiches throughout the day.

 Based in Commerce Township, Mich., Mr. Pita was founded in 1993 and today operates 31 locations in Michigan, New York, Texas and Colorado.  Additionally, the chain operates Pita Wagons that visit work sites to provide Mr. Pita foods.  In 2008, Mr. Pita sandwiches were voted “Michigan’s Best” in an annual survey of readers of the Detroit News.

Visit Mr. Pita on the web at for the location closest to you.

Barack Obama's presidential campaign demonstrated the power of social media as a vehicle for grassroots advocacy, particularly among college students who voted in record numbers. This raises a question central to the future of American democracy: Can social media networks help students to become better citizens?

Civic engagement by Gen-Xers will be the focus of a national conference hosted by Wayne State University Nov. 12 and 13 to determine effective methods for connecting with students. The private conference kicks off "eCitizenship: New Tools, New Strategies, New Spaces," a three-year project sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and The New York Times in partnership with Wayne State's Center for the Study of Citizenship. The center is the official research arm of the project as well as the host location for eCitizenship campuses to collaborate on the study of relationships between social networking and civic engagement.

"The eCitizenship initiative, the largest in the distinguished history of the American Democracy Project (ADP), will explore how social networking and digital media are crucial tools in stimulating civic engagement among college and university students," said Professor Marc Kruman, director of the center and chair of the Department of History. "We're very excited to help lead this initiative and to conduct subsequent research on individual campus programs. We expect that this research will uncover how digital media can be used most effectively to foster undergraduate civic engagement."

Jose Antonio Vargas, technology and innovations editor for the Huffington Post, will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Vargas will give a separate, public address, titled Brave New World of Journalism, at 7 p.m., Nov. 12, in the Law School's Spencer Partrich Auditorium at WSU.

The eCitizenship conference will be held in the university's Bernath Auditorium in the David Adamany Undergraduate Library, 5155 Gullen Mall.

The conference is the seventh initiative of the ADP. Thirty-four colleges and universities have been invited to participate in this national project to study social networking and research new ways for institutions to harness the technology in preparing students to be active and engaged members of society.

The Center for the Study of Citizenship is the premier global institution for the study and promotion of citizenship.

Founded in 2003, the ADP is a multicampus initiative focused on higher education's role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens and producing graduates who are committed to being actively involved in their communities.

In the spirit of an early Thanksgiving, Askar Brands, a local group of restaurants, will provide a tasty dinner for those in need on Sunday November 8, during the third annual Holiday Mercy Dinner at the St. Vincent de Paul Matchen Nutrition Center, an area soup kitchen located at 46408 Woodward Avenue at Judson in Pontiac, Mich.

Papa Romano’s Pizza, Mr. Pita, CJ’s Brewing Company and Stucchi’s Ice Cream, all owned and operated by Askar Brands, will donate and prepare fresh, hot meals to feed about 350 people from 3:30 – 6:30pm.

“The need is greater than ever.  We anticipate about 20% more meals to be served this year,” says Roseann Royle, Director of Development for St. Vincent de Paul.

The menu includes all-time favorites such as Papa Romano’s pizza and salads, fresh pita sandwiches from Mr. Pita, piping hot soups and Pepsi beverages from CJ’s Brewing Company and premium ice cream from Stucchi’s. The event will be staffed by volunteers from the local restaurants and their families.

“This is an annual event for us that we look forward to participating in,” said Casey Askar, chairman and chief executive officer of Askar Brands. “It warms our hearts to be able to make a difference in the lives of those touched by these difficult times. Our franchisees also help out by collecting funds at the local level that are then donated at the telethon.”

Signage and canisters requesting community donations to benefit St. Vincent de Paul will be in participating Papa Romano’s Pizza and Mr. Pita stores throughout metro Detroit starting November 1st.   The funds will then be donated at the WXYZ-TV7 telethon event for St Vincent de Paul on December 3rd by Askar.  Further support will be given by Askar Brands donation of food and beverages to the volunteers for the duration of the telethon.

For more information about the Holiday Mercy Dinner, call (248) 334-7750.

On Bookshelves Now: '365 Days In Detroit'

Angela's Eye

Be sure to check out the latest from the Motown's beloved Wayne State University Press, 'A Motor City Year' showcasing dozens and dozens of metro Detroit landmarks and traditions - as well as oddities- shot by award-winning photographer John Sobczak.

The book, which is divided by the four seasons we've grown to love here as Michiganders, with a foreword by Jeff Daniels, begins with spring and offers up 365 images of the better-known events and landscapes from Comerica City Fest and Eastern Market shopping to some of the more underground notes of interest from tattoo artists and the Michigan Elvisfest. Yes, there is such thing!

Sobczak depicts a wide scope of the heart, soul, beauty and beasts in the hard-to-put-down 9 x 13 inch hardcover book, $39.95. Look for it at Bureau of Urban Living in Detroit (460 West Canfield Street) or online.

You can meet and greet the photographer on these days at these locations:

November 7 – John Sobczak at the Henry Ford Museum, 1pm

November 14 – John Sobczak at Barnes & Noble, Royal Oak, 3pm

November 18 – John Sobczak at Detroit Historical Museum, 6pm

November 21 – John Sobczak at Barnes & Noble, Shelby Township, 1pm

November 24 – John Sobczak at Barnes & Noble, Allen Park, 7pm

December 12 – John Sobczak at Barnes & Noble, Rochester Hills, 1pm

December 19 – John Sobczak at Barnes & Noble, Northville, 1pm

Visit here for more information.

Ford Reports a Nearly $1 Billion Profit

Chris Isidore
CNN Money

The only U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy posts an unexpected profit thanks to a big lift from Cash for Clunkers sales.

Ford Motor reported a surprise profit for the third quarter Monday, helped by a bump in sales from the Cash for Clunkers program, a reduced cost structure and problems at its U.S. rivals.

The only major U.S. automaker not to file for bankruptcy this year earned $997 million, or 29 cents a share, compared to a loss of $161 million, or 7 cents a share on that basis a year earlier.

Excluding special items, Ford reported a profit of $873 million, or 26 cents a share, in the period. Analysts had been forecasting a loss of 12 cents a share for the quarter on this basis. Ford said it was the first pre-tax operating profit since the start of 2008.

The company said cost cutting during the past year and an improved outlook for sales leads it to believe Ford will be "solidly profitable" in 2011, excluding special items.

That's the most bullish outlook Ford has offered investors since it started losing money in 2005. The company had previously said it was looking for break-even or better results that year.

Turning the corner. The guidance raised hopes that the company may have turned the corner on nearly five years of losses for its key North American auto operations.

"Our third quarter results clearly show that Ford is making tremendous progress despite the prolonged slump in the global economy," said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally in a statement.

The company said it lowered its structural costs by $1 billion compared to a year earlier, with about half of that improvement coming in North America.

Mulally told investors that the company remains hopeful it could be profitable in 2010, not just by 2011, and that the longer time frame in the new guidance is a way of being cautious.

"The reason we couched it that way is we're just not sure about the strength of the recovery," he said. Mulally said Ford will detail further guidance on 2010 profits when it reports fourth-quarter results in January.

Digesting the details. Results in North America were helped by much stronger sales than a year earlier, particularly in the United States, where the company was one of the prime beneficiaries of the Cash for Clunkers program that gave buyers up to $4,500 if they traded in a gas guzzler for a more fuel efficient vehicle.

Even without the Cash for Clunkers program, which lifted the whole industry out of the doldrums, Ford made gains on many of its rivals during the quarter.

During the quarter, Ford's U.S. market share rose by 2.2 percentage points to 14.6%. Ford benefited from steep market share declines at GM and Chrysler in the wake of their bankruptcies, but it also posted bigger market share gains than Japanese rivals such as Toyota Motor (TM) and Honda Motor (HMC).

Shares of Ford (F, Fortune 500) rose about 8% in mid-morning trading Monday following the report.

The company reported overall revenue of $30.9 billion in the quarter, down $800 million from the same period a year ago due to a decrease in revenue at its Ford Credit unit.

Ford said that global auto sales rose $100 million from the third quarter of 2008, to $27.9 billion. It sold 1.23 million vehicles worldwide, up 5% from a year earlier, and its average net pricing also improved along with its sales volume. Auto revenue in North America soared by $2.9 billion, or 27%, to $13.7 billion.

Ford (F, Fortune 500) also said it made money on its auto operations, and that it reported positive cash flow of $1.3 billion from its auto businesses. The company had been burning through significant amounts of cash every quarter since the second quarter of 2007 as it suffered from years of ongoing losses.

"While we still face a challenging road ahead, our [company] transformation plan is working and our underlying business continues to grow stronger," Mulally added.

Ford's automotive unit earned $446 million in the quarter, compared to a loss of $2.9 billion in the year-earlier period, as the company's core auto operations in North America returned to profitability for the first time since the first half of 2005.
Grand Kids Foundation

In a season marked by extraordinary performances on and off the field, Major League baseball players today bestowed their highest honors on two players – St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols is Player of the Year and Detroit Tigers centerfielder Curtis Granderson is the Marvin Miller Man of the Year.  The Major League Baseball Players Trust will honor Pujols and Granderson, the top Players Choice Award winners, with donations of $50,000 each to the charities of their choice.

The Awards announcements were made this morning on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning show during the finale of an exclusive, five-day broadcast special presented by Upper Deck and benefiting the Major League Baseball Players Trust.

Pujols helped guide the Cardinals to their fourth NL Central Division crown in six years by leading the Majors in home runs for the first time, with 47.   The eight-time Players Choice Award winner finished first among all National Leaguers in runs scored (124), on-base percentage (.443) and slugging percentage (.658), second in doubles (45) and third in batting average (.327), RBI (135) and walks (115).  Pujols, 29, hit above .300 with 30-plus home runs and 100-plus RBI for the ninth consecutive season.  Pujols has now been honored by his peers with Players Choice Awards as Player of the Year and NL Outstanding Player in 2003, 2008 and 2009, Marvin Miller Man of the Year in 2006 and NL Outstanding Rookie in 2001.

Granderson earned the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, named for the founding executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association and awarded to the player whose on-field and off -field performance most inspires others to higher levels of achievement, by displaying as much passion to give back to others as he shows between the lines on the baseball diamond .  In 2008, he established the Grand Kids Foundation to focus on improving opportunities for inner-city youth in the areas of education and youth baseball.  A graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago, Granderson recently released a children’s book, All You Can Be, which encourages children to chase their dreams.  He is also an active member of the Action Team national youth volunteer program administered by the Players Trust and Volunteers of America, which is inspiring and training the next generation of volunteers in more than 150 high schools across the United States.  Granderson, 28, just completed his fourth full season in the Majors and set a career high in home runs (30), and finished with 157 hits, 91 runs scored, 23 doubles, 8 triples, 20 stolen bases and 71 RBI in 160 games with the Tigers.  

To listen to a podcast of the Players Choice Awards announcements and player interviews, please click here.

Players Choice Awards annually recognize the best player, pitcher, rookie and comeback player in each league.  The Player of the Year and Marvin Miller Man of the Year awards bestow top honors without regard to league. Balloting of all Major League players for the Players Choice Awards was conducted in September under the supervision of accounting firm KPMG.

Players Choice Awards winners will recommend the charities of their choice to receive grants from the Major League Baseball Players Trust totaling $260,000.  Since 1992, the Players Trust has contributed more than $3.5 million dollars to charities around the world in honor of Players Choice Award winners.

The 2009 Players Choice Awards finalists are [winners in bold & underlined]:

American League:

Outstanding Rookie: Elvis Andrus (Texas), Gordon Beckham (Chicago White Sox), Jeff Niemann (Tampa Bay)
Comeback Player: Russell Branyan (Seattle), Aaron Hill (Toronto), Scott Podsednik (Chicago White Sox)
Outstanding Pitcher: Roy Halladay (Toronto), Zack Greinke (Kansas City), C.C. Sabathia (NY Yankees)
Outstanding Player: Derek Jeter (NY Yankees), Joe Mauer (Minnesota), Kendry Morales (LA Angels of Anaheim)

National League:

Outstanding Rookie: Chris Coghlan (Florida), Tommy Hanson (Atlanta), J.A. Happ (Philadelphia)
Comeback Player: Aaron Boone (Houston), Chris Carpenter (St. Louis), Nick Johnson (Florida)
Outstanding Pitcher: Chris Carpenter (St. Louis), Tim Lincecum (San Francisco), Adam Wainwright (St. Louis)
Outstanding Player: Prince Fielder (Milwaukee), Albert Pujols (St. Louis), Hanley Ramirez (Florida)

Either League:

Man of the Year: Curtis Granderson (Detroit), Torii Hunter (LA Angeles of Anaheim), Albert Pujols (St. Louis)
Player of Year: Joe Mauer (Minnesota), Albert Pujols (St. Louis), Hanley Ramirez (Florida)

Erin Rose
Positive Detroit

Adam Richman lands in Detroit, MI, to take on the massive Triple Threat Pork sandwich at Slow's Barbecue, 2 dueling Coney Dog joints (Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island)  and the tackle the Guinness Book of World Record Burger (weighing in at 180 lbs!) at Mallie’s Sports Grill and Bar with the Motor City Metal Jackets.

Tune in for this Episode Wednesday, November 4th at 10 p.m. Est.  Only on the Travel Channel.

Want to reduce stress, wear-and-tear on your car, lessen your carbon footprint and even help save the planet and your wallet? If so, stop by Wayne State University’s Drop Your Drive event to learn more about alternative forms of transit.

The event will feature nonprofit service providers and organizations promoting the use of public transportation in southeast Michigan. Meet representatives from the Detroit Department of Transportation, the SMART, MichiVan, Transportation Riders United, Wheelhouse Detroit and others. This is the perfect place to learn more about alternative forms of transit and to sign up for possible carpooling opportunities.

The Drop your Drive event will be held in Wayne State’s Student Center Building between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, 2009.

For more details, e-mail Elanette Yehuda, WSU transportation coordinator, at

Coming from me, you’d assume that an item about bicycles would be Minneapolis-related, but it’s not! It’s about Detroit!

Believe it or not, people in the Car Capital of the World love their bikes. And there is a huge movement to create a culture here that is friendlier to two wheels than four.

One such project would develop about 400 miles of bicycle lanes throughout Detroit. All it would take is some paint, new signs and a little cash, said Scott Clein, who heads the Detroit office of Giffels-Webster Engineers.

The firm, along with other key partners, mapped out every one of those miles with the city’s cooperation and a Michigan Department of Transportation grant. Clein and a support staff spent 18 months on the project, studying Detroit and trying to connect its waterways, landmarks and neighborhoods.

I frankly can’t fathom biking around Detroit. Like, can you see one of Eight Mile’s four lanes (in each direction) or one of Telegraph Rd’s four lanes (in each direction) being a bike lane? Or turning the dividing section in the middle of those roads into a bike highway (except that would totally screw with the Michigan Left)?

This is Eight Mile Rd, just east of Telegraph, looking back west. Four lanes in both directions, a boulevard in the middle, and a “Michigan left” just ahead of you.



Over the past weekend, an estimated 2,000 cyclists came to the city for the 8th annual Tour De Troit – nearly double the number that showed up last year. Its goal is in part is to raise funds for the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink, which could link these key communities to the Detroit riverfront.

One great example already exists. The Dequindre Cut Greenway, an urban recreational path, officially opened in May. The 1.2-mile greenway, developed through a public, nonprofit and private partnership, offers a pedestrian link between the Riverfront, Eastern Market and many of the adjacent residential neighborhoods. Formerly a Grand Truck Railroad line, the Dequindre Cut is a below-street level path that features a 20-foot-wide paved pathway, which includes separate lanes for pedestrian and bicycle or rollerblading traffic.

I must see this on my next trip home. Even though it’s waaaay on the east side, and my folks live waaaaay on the west side, and I’ll surely have to drive to it.

The comments are good, too. I appreciated the discussion about the appropriateness of spending money on these types of projects (and the sources of funding) given the financial difficulties the city faces.

Simply reading Detroit bikers comment on where they live and ride reminds me of the scale of the area we’re talking about. From my parents’ house in the northest/westest corner of the city to most points downtown or on the east side is 15+ miles. 15 miles from downtown Minneapolis gets you to the I-494/I-694 loop that generally separates the first-ring and second-ring suburbs. Detroit is just so much bigger.

This also reminds me that I haven’t spent any of my adult life in Detroit (except for that one year I was unemployed, which didn’t count). I have no desire to move back, but I really wonder what it would be like to live and work downtown or somewhere else that’s not the suburbs where the Catholic schools I attended are. What would it be like to live in a part of Detroit that actually mirrors many of the things that I like best about Minneapolis?

This article has kind of blown my mind grapes.

Grand Kids Foundation

All public elementary school libraries in Michigan soon will be receiving a copy of Detroit Tigers’ Curtis Granderson’s new book.  Granderson and publisher Triumph Books are proud to donate a copy of Granderson’s book All You Can Be to every public elementary school library in Michigan.  The illustrations in this book were contributed by fourth grade students from across Michigan.

Earlier this year, with the help from the Michigan Department of Education, the Grand Kids Foundation and Triumph Books held a contest inviting fourth graders across the state to submit their artwork through their school for consideration to be included in the book.  The theme for the artwork was:  How do you see yourself when you are in high school and how is education important in helping you become that person?   There were hundreds of submissions and Granderson chose 29 of them to be in his book.  Those students whose artwork was chosen received a free copy of the book, autographed by Granderson.

“Our many fine teachers throughout the state, along with other educators and administrators, are always looking for new and refreshing ways to motivate students and create enthusiasm for the joy of learning,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan.  “All You Can Be takes a unique approach to student involvement in this adventure by giving them the opportunity to create their own artwork, illustrating the importance that education plays in achieving their goals for the future.

“I’d like to thank Curtis for his generosity not only to school libraries, but for his overall commitment to education,” Flanagan said.

With special input from the Michigan Department of Education, Granderson, his mother, Mary Granderson (herself, a retired school teacher), and Detroit News writer Terry Foster, All You Can Be is the latest effort from Triumph Books to help children get excited about learning - in this case helping them realize  that the things they are taught every day have very real applications later in life.

“There was one simple thing I wanted to achieve with All You Can Be – to make learning fun for school children,” said Granderson.  “My mother, Mary, co-author, Terry Foster, and I truly feel we have accomplished what we set out to do, which was to make learning fun through using creative and different ways to get Michigan’s elementary school students thinking about their future.”

Granderson grew up on the south side of Chicago. He loved sports and was determined to become a successful athlete. But perhaps because both of his parents were teachers, he had an even stronger desire to succeed in the classroom. He loved learning for its own sake, and from an early age the importance of education. Now an established Major League baseball All-Star, Granderson has not forgotten the lessons he learned growing up. These are lessons not only about the importance of education, but also about working hard to attain goals; and lessons about character, integrity, and personal responsibility.

All of the net proceeds from the public sale of the books will go to Granderson’s foundation: Grand Kids Foundation, whose funds go towards purchasing school supplies for needy families/kids; books and supplies for schools that do not get the funding they always need; establishing baseball programs as well as providing equipment and facilities in some of Michigan’s inner cities; and eventually a scholarship program for graduating high school seniors.

List of students whose artwork was selected:

Lindsey Lammlin, Minges Brook Elementary (Battle Creek)

Breanna Schwartz, Madison Academy (Flint)

Kate Nawrocki, All Saints Academy (Grand Rapids)

Sklyer Kochan, Harvey-Swanson Elementary (Ortonville)

Carson Render, Creekside Elementary (Hartland)

Kerryn Taylor, Central Elementary (Flushing)

Kody Beauchaine, Autrain-Onota Elementary (Deerton)

Lily Atkinson, Lake Hills Elementary (Spring Lake)

Naiya Taylor, Stark School of Technology (Detroit)

Gracie Butler, Trinity Lutheran School (Jackson)

Cruz Rodriguez, Oakridge Upper Elementary (Muskegon)

Megan Pietila, Southwest Elementary (Howell)

Chloe Smith, Byron Center Christian School (Byron Center)

Kelsey Hessbrook, North Elementary (Ithaca)

Ally Estes, New Haven Elementary (New Haven)

Gavin Walters, Brummer Elementary (South Lyon)

Raisa Zahir, Westlake Elementary (Battle Creek)

Jonathon Forbush, Kennedy Elementary (Warren)

Reyah Spikener, The Bates Academy (Detroit)

Rachel Yang, Wood Creek Magnet School (Lansing)

Sydney Knisley, Angell School (Berkley)

Ina Gjoka, New Haven Elementary (New Haven)

Danielle Anderson, North Elementary (Ithaca)

Ashley Hann, Hutchings Elementary (Howell)

Julia Boudreau, Seymour Elementary (Flushing)

Autumn Petrick, St. Joseph School (St. Johns)

Tereon Rutherford, Warren Charter Academy (Detroit)

Savanna Wirth, Minges Brook Elementary (Battle Creek)

Katie Crawford, St. Charles Elementary (St. Charles)
Rhonda Welsh

Detroit’s WJBK Fox 2 news reporter Lee Thomas has the rare skin disease vitiligo. His face is a mottled combination of chocolate brown and nearly pearlescent, pale pink. Thomas typically wears make-up on air to limit distractions when reporting the news. But, his beauty is undeniable.

Even when reporting the most mundane story he exudes effervescence. When he first shared his struggle with Detroit area viewers on-air, it resulted in an outpouring of support. And during speaking engagements like his recent TEDx Detroit talk, he inspired and radiated positive vibes.

While Thomas may be the Detroit area’s most famous vitiligo sufferer, the world’s most famous sufferer (albeit with strong Detroit ties) is the late Michael Joseph Jackson. A rare skin disease is not the only trait Thomas and Jackson share. In the posthumously produced This Is It, Jackson inspired and radiated positive vibes.

The documentary begins with accounts of dancers and background singers sharing their lifelong dreams of performing with Michael Jackson. It progresses through approximately two hours of concert rehearsal footage. The high-energy “The Way You Make Me Feel”, the way cool “Smooth Criminal” number featuring Humphery Bogart and Rita Hayworth and his breath-taking duet with Judith Hill “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” These are highlights of the documentary produced and directed by Kenny Ortega.

But, it’s Michael Jackson. We expect to see good dancing, hear great singing and experience dazzling production. He is casually styled throughout most of the film and while not quite barefaced -- virtually. His face and hands exhibit that pearlescent, pale pink that appears to be a trademark of vitiligo. What is disarming about the film is Michael Jackson’s sheer, undeniable beauty. His absolute joie de vivre on the stage was evident even while he conserved his voice and energy during rehearsal.

It’s easy to forget about the allegations and scandals that plagued his life. It’s almost impossible to imagine the loneliness and depression that haunted him. And it’s tempting to believe that he may have experienced a much, less painful life if he’d let us in on one of his most painful secrets, vitiligo, from the outset.

Would we have given him the outpouring of support that Lee Thomas received when he went on camera without his makeup the first time? Would we have embraced him as his skin began to morph before our eyes? Would he have felt loved and supported unconditionally and not just as an outgrowth of his staggering talent? Are these questions far too simplistic?

Michael Joseph Jackson had a gorgeous gift. His music and movement lifted our spirits and warmed our hearts for over four decades. This film proves that he is gone too soon. But although he has departed, his beauty remains.

Matthew Neagle
Michigan Future Inc.

The revival of Detroit is happening, slowly but surely.  The best indicator is the pulse of the so-called “creative class” that are typically the first to re-enter and re-catalyze an urban area.

This weekend, I met up with a friend who is a prototype of the creative class – an artist and musician who organizes underground music events, plays shows on tours around the country , and works freelance as a computer programmer.  And, he has been living in downtown Detroit for almost ten years.  He is living the pulse.

His response to why Detroit is a great place to be an artist – space, food, and time.

For 1/4 the cost of a renting a single room in Chicago or New York, my friend has a stunning and raw 1000 square loft with 20 foot high ceilings that he shares with one other person.  For a quarter the cost, he gets 10 times the space in Detroit.   He has all the room he needs to live, to create music and art, and to put on events in his space.

Untrue to the common gripe about no grocery stores in Detroit, my friend is within walking distance to fresh, local, inexpensive food 365 days a year at Eastern Market, the largest open air market in the country.  In fact, this weekend, bell peppers were selling 5 for a dollar – can’t beat that.

Unless, of course, you are growing it yourself.   My friend also had a vegetable garden outside his building, one of an increasing number of urban gardens and farms in Detroit.   Detroit can now offer the cultural value of urbanity with the space and sustenance of rural living.

With less cost needed to sustain himself, he has more time for his creative pursuits.   The economics of creative work, for those that want a raw urban experience, make sense right now.

And, more and more people are taking up the offer.   My friend said the pulse is changing – Detroit is much better than it was 5 years ago and significantly better than when he arrived almost 10 years ago.

Finally Detroit, the first movie ever released in theaters that shows the positive side of life in Detroit opens November 6th. Prepare yourself for 90 minutes of fall-out-of-your-seat laughter as filmmaker and loyal Detroiter Robert Phelps introduces his new comedy “Stick It In Detroit.”

This award-winning, critically acclaimed, raw, in-your-face comedy epitomizes the roll-up-your-sleeves, never-say-die, do-it-yourself Detroit spirit and promises to be the most fun you will have at the movies all year.

Hoping to help reverse the negative stereotype that Detroit has garnered in movies over the past three decades and against all odds, director Robert Phelps set out on a seven-year journey, sacrificing everything to make the film that would show the world the Detroit he knows and loves, the one that is a great place to live and work, the one full of family, friends and most importantly, laughter.

“I am very proud of my city. It is a beautiful city full of amazing people. I’m sick of how it’s portrayed in movies, so I wanted to make a film that the people of Detroit can identify with, relate to and be proud of. Most importantly, I wanted to make a movie in which Detroiters can forget about their problems and just laugh for 90 minutes straight,” said Phelps.

“Stick It in Detroit” is 100% made in Detroit, by Detroit and for Detroit. “This is Detroit’s movie. It is not going to change the perception of our city overnight, but every positive project counts, and eventually, if we support these projects, we can do it and have a lot of fun in the process.”

“Stick It In Detroit” opens in theaters beginning Friday, November 6th, only at MJR Theaters: Waterford Cinema 16, Marketplace Sterling Heights Cinema 20 and Southgate Cinema 20.

Forbes has released its annual "America's Safest Cities" list and Detroit ranks 12 in the nation!  Mind you, just a year and a half ago, Forbes listed Detroit as the most dangerous city in the U.S.  Oh, how times have changed!  The cities were ranked based on the lowest rate of violent crimes, workplace deaths, fatal crashes, and natural disasters.

Below is how Detroit measures up:

Workplace Fatality Rate: 4th
Traffic Death: 10th
Natural Disaster: 8th
Violent Crime:  40 out of 40

Lee Mergner
Jazz Times

The Kresge Foundation, in conjunction with Kresge Arts in Detroit, announced that jazz trumpeter Marcus Belgrave is the 2009 Kresge Eminent Artist. That award also comes with a $50,000 prize. The Detroit-based Belgrave has gotten a lot of awards and grants over the years, but he told JT that this one was special. “It’s one I didn’t expect, that’s for sure.” It turns out that he knew he had been nominated, but after attending a gathering of various artists in the running for the award, he ruled himself out. “I saw so many gifted artists of all genres, not just music, so I didn’t think I had a chance.”

The Kresge Eminent Artist Award recognizes an exceptional artist in the visual, performing, or literary arts for his or her professional achievements and contributions to the cultural community, and encourages that individual’s pursuit of a chosen art form as well as an ongoing commitment to Metropolitan Detroit. The award is unrestricted and is given annually to one artist who has lived and worked in Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb Counties for a significant number of years. The first-ever Kresge Eminent Artist Award was presented last year to Detroit visual artist Charles McGee. The Eminent Artist Award is administered by the College for Creative Studies. The award recipient is selected by an independent review panel composed of prominent artists and arts professionals from the Detroit area.

Michelle Perron, director of Kresge Arts in Detroit, acknowledged that Belgrave was a natural choice for the award in its second year. “The award recognizes someone who has exemplified outstanding achievement in the arts field, as well as contributed to the Detroit area community. His impact in this community has been so outstanding for many years, not only as a musician but also as an educator.” She confirmed that there are no strings to the award. “This award recognizes his lifelong work and commitment.”

Belgrave himself attributes the award to his lifelong devotion to education in the community. “They knew that if they gave the money to me that I’m going to keep on doing what I been doing.” Indeed, Belgrave has been dedicated to teaching jazz to young people, both informally and formally, since around 1970.

Born and raised in Chester, Pa., Belgrave has been a fixture of the Detroit music community since he settled there in 1963. He told JT that he had his eye on the city for many years. “I was very close with Clifford Brown, who lived in Wilmington, Delaware, not far from me. He became my first mentor. I was trying to play jazz but, you know, I didn’t know what I was doing. He wrote out my first solo for me, for ‘How High the Moon.’ Yes, he opened up my ears.” Belgrave simply couldn’t imagine someone playing the trumpet better than Brown (a sentiment matched by many a trumpet player, past and present). “But these other guys would tell me, ‘Oh yea? There’s a guy in Detroit who plays circles around Clifford.’ I thought to myself, ‘Who was this guy?’ It turned out to be Thad Jones. So I knew that Detroit had a real strong music scene. I got to know him later when I was with Ray Charles and he was with Count Basie.”

Performing with Ray Charles for almost four years was a watershed experience for Belgrave, who had met Charles in Wichita, Kansas and sat in with the band. But it wasn’t until Charles had a three-week engagement in the Chester area that Belgrave was asked to join the band. “The last night he was there, he called me in to be a part of the band, because the trumpet player had had enough,” said Belgrave, laughing. Several years later, Belgrave would have a similar feeling. But he doesn’t harbor any ill feelings about his tenure with the great singer. “Those were beautiful days.” When he left Charles’ band he wanted to find a place where he could make a living without being on the road for months at a time. It was around 1962 and the Motown label was in full swing. Belgave did sessions with the label and when that work dried up, he started looking for other outlets for his talents. “I had worked so hard and lived so hard, I was ready to settle down.”

His conversion to the field of jazz education came in 1970, during a difficult time physically. He had been ill in the hospital and when he was released, he had some time on his hands without an instrument. “The doctor told me, ‘I know you’re not going to give up playing, but you have to give it up for at least three months.’ I lasted two! But it was during that time that I started teaching. And I took to it. It seemed like a natural thing to hook up with talented kids.” Talented they were. Among his students are some of the most accomplished players on the contemporary jazz scene, including Geri Allen, Regina Carter, James Carter, Bob Hurst, Rodney Whitaker and Kenny Garrett, all of whom are quick to publicly acknowledge their debt to their mentor. In an Overdue Ovation profile of Belgrave in JT in 1994, Regina Carter told Jim Dulzo that Belgrave had and continues to have a unique relationship with his former students. “He is like baby’s milk,” Carter explained. “He’s like a nutrient, like a parent. It was just so important to us as young people to really get a firm grasp on the music and come to it in a way that is fun and enjoyable.”

It’s clear in talking with Belgrave about his former students that he gets much pride and pleasure from the relationships. Belgrave said about Garrett that, “He asked more questions than any other student. He’s always trying to learn more. Did you know that he learned Japanese and now he’s learning Chinese? Oh lord. At one point he was working with Miles and he would call me up and ask me for advice. I told him, “You’re playing with Miles Davis—ask him!”

During the ‘70s, Belgrave worked as a musician and teacher with the late Harold McKinney and his organization Metropolitan Arts, but eventually formed his own organization, the Jazz Development Workshop, where many of the aforementioned artists got their early jazz training. Belgrave felt that his program made a difference in the city. “It was a positive thing for Detroit. There are a lot of dedicated teachers in the city—like Ernie Rogers and Dan Pruitt. But it seems like the schools are in such a state of decline, they just don’t get a chance.” Belgrave himself never taught formally in the Detroit school system, preferring to work on his own with students who wanted to learn from a master. Looking back on his teaching experiences, Belgrave attributed whatever impact he had on the students to the simple message that he delivered. “I let them know that they can really play. I think they knew it anyway. But I found that I was able to impart my own knowledge, direction and guidance to them.”

I asked him if he ever regretted settling in Detroit, where he became known more as an educator than as a musician. “No, no. I spent a year and a half in New York City. I worked and played with so many greats. I played on records with Mingus and Donald Byrd. I was in contact with all the musicians. I put in my dues. But it’s a hectic place. You can get in trouble there!”

In addition to his work as an educator in the Detroit music community, Belgrave also teaches jazz at Oberlin College, along with Wendell Logan, Gary Bartz, Robin Eubanks and Dan Wall. He enjoys teaching to these college kids who likely are very different from the inner city kids Belgrave has mentored over the years. “They seem to like my approach there.” He laments that he doesn’t get to spend more time with his fellow professors, who tend to come to the campus for different 2-3 days stretches. And Belgrave continues to be active as a performing musician. He recently toured with his wife, singer Joan Belgrave, in a show dedicated to Louis Armstrong. He performs and records regularly in the Detroit area and is a founding member of the Detroit Jazz Musicians Co-Op. Recently, Belgrave represented Detroit as part of the Lincoln Center Motor City Jazz Masters tribute which Included Yusef Lateef, Curtis Fuller, Charles McPherson, and Ron Carter.

Belgrave has no concrete plans for using the money from the award. He does want to explore the music of his family’s roots in Barbados. And he’s looking forward to doing the 2010 Jazz Party at Sea, which will make stops in the Caribbean, not far from his family’s origins. “I want to see if that music is still in my blood.”